Cover Your Fantail

The NX – Another controversial ship.

I had a field day detailing out the NX, and every nook and cranny is accounted for. I added details that I hoped would allow for cool ideas later on, if and when the opportunities presented themselves. But I had to be cautious about obvious details to the ship that were not approved, because they could get me into trouble. Yes, The chain of command was heavy on Enterprise. Herman Zimmerman, our stalwart production designer was once balled out because I labeled a nacelle as a nacelle on a framed blueprint in the drydock observation room. He was told that it wasn’t a nacelle until the front office said it was. So I tucked gear behind doors and hatches, and then wrote up notes “suggesting” the vessels potential. This jack-in-the-box approach was the result of ol’  Doug covering his posterior. Necessity is the mother of invention.

When it came time to design the ship’s “phase cannons”, we could not get an answer from the front office. I’m sure our  little queries regarding weapon emplacements around the ship was the least of their worries. However it was a big worry for me. Deadline was days away, and if I placed them myself, and they decided later that they didn’t like it, we would be reprimanded for not asking  (I know, I know… it is not logical, but it is often true).

The Enterprise NX had numerous hatches and trap doors from which it could deploy a variety of gear.  Hatches that were relatively flat to the center plane of the ship had a rotating drum with cylinders like a revolver. Each cylinder housed a specialized piece of equipment (phase cannons, antennaes, probes, communication relays… anything the writers might come up with), and could be rotated inline with it’s respective hatch for egress.

An early concept  for a phased energy emitter that combined the phaser “nipple” idea as seen on the 1701 refit, and the much later “strip”. Herman much preferred the more cannon like emitter which reflected the hand weapons carried by landing parties. I remember Roddenberry desribed ship’s phasers as “artillery sized” versions of the weapons carried by crew, so this idea appealed to me as well.

 The NX that I worked on had much greater abilities and utilities than the ship the TPTB would allow. There was an episode where the NX was damaged by a Romulan mine. The script had a character hiking across the hull, and dragging equipment after him. It was absurd that they were so ill equipped. I had designed the ship like a skyscraper, with tracks embedded between the hull panels for repair cars to travel. I had also provided articulated arms like the International Space Station (this is not to mention the various vehicles they could have taken). The TPTB thought the danger of hiking across the hull was more important than what we had developed, so it was conveniently forgotten. In my opinion, this breach in logic undermined the believability of the ship, it’s crew, and starfleet in general.

Send In The Clowns

In an earlier blog entry back in December, I began to talk about my experiences on the motion picture Manhunter. Michael Mann was the director, and he was a wild ride. You couldn’t deny his talent, but there was always an air of danger about him. He took chances, pushed the crew through 48 hour days, and made a few dubious decisions. We spent the last week in the pouring rain, in a swamp. On the last balls to the wall night of shooting, they used real ammunition in Dollarhyde’s shotgun. Pellets passed through the wardrobe truck. The special effects guys walked… but that’s another story.

 Rewind a few weeks. Caglione and I we’re working at the Dino DeLaurentis studios in North Carolina, which by the way was built on the approach to the Wilmington airport. Every time a jet was on the approach we had to hold the roll. Picture that. We were still early in the shoot, and the crew was tired already. They had no idea that it would get worse. Michael Mann had been driving them hard for some time now, and the production was on the ragged edge. The UPM went home over a weekend, and never came back. It looked bad. The teamsters were on the verge of mutiny. It was like watching a train wreck in slow motion. Then they brought in “The cleaner” to turn it around… and it turned out he was a buddy of ours. Jon Landau. Remember me talking about Les Landau? The Trek director? This was his brother, and we had worked with him previously on F/X with Bryan Brown. We considered him one of the good ones. Sharp, smart, tough, and funny. He went on to produce Dick Tracy, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Titanic, and the upcoming Avatar. We couldn’t be happier, and we couldn’t wait to see him, and especially see how he would handle this crew which was wound tight as a claymore.

When Jon arrived there were grins and handshakes all around. “Hey,” he said, “Can you do a clown makeup?” Well sure! Of course! We’re the makeup department! “What time are you in?” Oh-dark-hundred! Five am! “Ok! I’ll see you then,” and headed out the door with a sly smile. Caglione and I looked at one another a little more than intrigued.

The next morning, Landau showed up, right on the button. Under his arm he had a polka dot clown suit, big giant red clown shoes, a red fringe clown wig, and a big red rubber bozo nose. Whooo heeee! About twenty minutes later, Jon stood before us, gussied up like Emmett Kelly. Un-friggen-believable! The new unit production manager, and he is dressed like a clown. Jon thanked us kindly, bounded out of the makeup room, and headed off to save the production. Caglione and I were were high fiving, and splitting a grin from ear to ear.

The rest of the day, no matter where we went, there was this clown  fighting with the teamsters, jousting with the grips, and sparring with construction. And no one could keep a straight face. No one could stay mad, and in a little while, no one wanted to fight. It was a stroke of sheer genius. Jon Landau… one in a million. Send in the clowns!

Oh, By The Way!

Oh, by the way!

Those simple words create a wave of excitement and fear in me. It makes me feel really alive! I like it!

Oh, by the way,” repeats Herman grinning from ear to ear, “They have to do reshoots for Shockwave part two. You know the set we built on stage 8… that rubble strewn section of city? They forgot to get an establisher.” No master? “Nope!” Don’t they always start with the master? “Yup! But here’s the best part… they’ve already struck the set! So, Dougie… your mission… whether you like it or not… is to digitally reconstruct it. Dan Curry will greenscreen Archer, and future guy into it.”

I like it! Hit me, Herman! Hit me!

Herman walks off grinning. “You’re a nice man.”

How It Happens

Here’s how it happens: I’m sitting at my desk, minding my own business (actually I was right in the middle of the Defiant color cutaways for the Tech Manual), when this Gary Hutzel guy comes in. Doug, ‘ol buddy, ‘ol pal, ‘ol chum! We have a scene where we are going to show the Defiant shuttle egress the ship. Cool, I say! It just so happens I’m working on the latest ship diagram! Let me show you how it works! Gary stops me: But wait! There’s more! The shuttle pod miniature was stolen! Wha?! … Yeah… But that’s ok, because they want something different! They want a full size shuttle! And all I’m thinking is: You’re screwing up my ship plans! I’ll kill you!… Gary! There’s just no place to put it! Are they out of their Vulcan minds?…. Then a big light bulb went on over my head! HEY! Waitamint! I know the perfect place! I grab the model of the ship and turn it over. THERE! This big round plane! It would make a nice sized egress for a shuttle… and then I get a grin like Alex at the end of Clockwork Orange… It… could… WORK! Gary thumps me on the back. That’s the stuff, Chuckie! Um… can you design a shuttle to go with that?

Far Beyond The Stars

We assigned real life characters to the fictional staff to help us dress the set. Most notably Harlan Ellison for Armin Shimmerman’s firey character, and a cross between Isaac Asimov, and Richard Feynman (hence the bongos) for Colm Meaney’s robot loving personae.

Undoubtedly one of the all time great Deep Space Nine episodes was written by our friend Marc Zicree. It stood out as one of the most “science-fictiony” of all the shows, yet most of it took place in a magazine office in the 1950’s. It also dealt with social issues, which equals Star Trek at it’s best. For the art department it was a frolic, and a lark, and seemed almost too good to be true. What fun we had designing  a science fiction magazine office, and dressing it. Mike Okuda wanted it gilded to the gills with paraphernalia, posters, memos, and sketches. It was an outgrowth of our own little haven over the Marathon Mill.

Mike Okuda had too much fun mocking up covers of science ficton magazines using TOS matte paintings. Nana is a female science fiction writer who must hide the fact that she is a woman by using only the initials of her first name in her byline. Somewhat of a nod to D.C. Fontana.

The magazine office in Far Beyond The Stars was a cornucopia of oddball sketches, memos, props, and mocked up magazine covers. As I related in part one, we had more fun dressing it than ought to be legal.  Our blog buddy Jörg has since made it his business to sift through all the textures of this set, especially some of the sketches which tantalyzingly appeared out of focus in the background. In this entry we’ll bring some of these sketches to the forefront. As an extra added super bonus, Mike Okuda has contributed his notes which analyze the bullpen in detail.

From Mike –

These are notes that I wrote for Steve Barnes, who wrote the novelization of the episode.  I should mention that Laura Richarz (our incredible set decorator) and Herman Zimmerman (our fearless leader) gave us free reign to do pretty much anything we wanted on that set.  And we took full advantage of it!

Random notes on the sets for “Far Beyond the Stars.”

  • Stone Publications (the company that publishes Incredible Tales) is located on the third floor of the Arthur Trill Building.

  • The office is on the corner of the building.  Windows line two walls of the office, through which one can see the skyline.

  • The full name of the magazine is Incredible Tales of Scientific Wonder.  The cover design is modeled on a 1953 Gernsback publication.

  • The Incredible Tales offices consists of a large bullpen in which the various staff writers work.  To one side is a glassed wall, dividing the bullpen from Mr. Pabst’s office.  To the left of the door to Pabst’s office is his secretary’s desk.  Elsewhere are about five desks, for the staff writers.  There is a door leading to a small side office in which the layout artist works.  There is a large work table in the middle of the bullpen.  Everyone has a manual typewriter (except Pabst, who has no typewriter).

  • The overall impression of the office is PAPER.  Lots of it.  Piled everywhere in apparent disarray.  Manuscripts.  Carbon copies of manuscripts.  Correspondence.  Unsolicited submissions.  Rejection letters.  Back issues of Incredible Tales.  Copies of Astounding and Galaxy.  Other magazines and newspapers.  The carbon copies are sometimes annoyingly fuzzy and hard to read.  Some manuscripts are marked up with proofreaders’ marks.

  • The walls are adorned with perhaps six or ten large poster-sized blowups of covers of past issues of Incredible Tales.  Each staff writer has used the wall space near his/her desk to pin up old newspaper articles, past covers of Incredible Tales (featuring their work).  This stuff has accreted over the years.  Pinned up on the walls near each desk are old galleys of text from stories that the insensitive Mr. Pabst had the audacity to cut from stories.

  • Highly visible are numerous drawings of spaceships, alien creatures, and other science fiction standbys, pinned up above every desk.  Most of these are black-and-white pen drawings that were presumably used as interior illustrations and cartoons.  In actual fact, most of the drawings were done by Doug Drexler, John Eaves, and Jim Van Over.  Some cool paintings by Rick Sternbach (whose art has actually appeared in numerous real s-f magazines!)  Maybe a couple by Mike Okuda.  Also prominent are several drawings that are actually sketches by Matt Jefferies from the original Star Trek series.  (We were careful NOT to use anything that would resemble the Enterprise.)

  • Also visible everywhere are pinned-up memos from Mr. Pabst.  These were actually20written by Jim Van Over, who filled them with a lot of funny gags that will not be visible on camera.  (We hope!)  For example, one memo to Albert Macklin advises Albert that four laws of robotics is too many, suggesting that he should lose one.  Another advises Herb Rossoff that no one would believe that a cheerleader could kill vampires.  A memo to Benny warns him about slipping the name “Cassie” into his stories.  A memo near the water cooler reminds everyone that we have ants, and that everyone should clean up after themselves.

  • At various places throughout the office are a number of Fifties-style science fiction toys.  Prominent among these are various rocketship models, a flying saucer, and a coin bank in the shape of a rocket.  There’s a model of Chuck Yeagar’s X-1 airplane.  We sense that these people do (occasionally) have fun at their jobs; that they have a real love of the genre.

  • There are a lot of mechanical layout boards strewn throughout the office.  Also, there are a LOT of loose galley strips of type pinned onto walls, bulletin boards, and in odd corners.  Not just near the artist’s board, but also on the writers’ desks as well as on the worktable in the middle of the bullpen.  The layout boards are often stained with two-part rubber cement, casualties of the rush with which the magazine is always put together.  In the margins of some boards are strips of type cut at the last minute, as well as hasty red markings for corrections.

  • The big table in the middle of the bullpen is circular, wooden.  There are about four or five wooden chairs around it.  It’s presumably a work table, as well as a lunch table.  It is strewn with layout boards, as well as a handful of back issues of Incredible Tales.  Some idiot l eft a coffee cup on a layout board for next month’s issue, and there’s a coffee ring right on the body copy!  There is a four-foot tall model of a pointy silver rocketship standing in the middle of the table.  (This ship looks a whole lot like the Luna from “Destination Moon.”)

  • Through a door near the water cooler is a doorway leading to a small side room in which the layout artist (whose character name I can’t recall at the moment) works.  The room is a disaster area, even more so than the bullpen itself.

  • The artist’s desk is an angled drafting table.  He has a t-square and a fluorescent desk lamp.  Layout boards are piled on his desk, and strewn nearby, leaned on the desk and leaned on the wall.  Also on the desk are numerous pieces of original art from cover paintings to many fanciful drawings that were b/w interior illustrations.   How the hell does he EVER find anything?  (Once again, many of the actual drawings are the work of Drexler, Eaves, and Jefferies.)

  • There are a couple of layout boards tacked up on the wall, as well as numerous drawings-in-progress.  There are lots of past covers, ripped off from magazines, and thumbtacked onto the wall.  There is a diagram of a fifties-style rocketship labeled Project Nova, Alpha-One Moon Rocket on the wall.  Also a sketch for a cover featuring Honest Joe’s Used Spaceships. (will be featured in part III)

  • Not only are there numerous strips of old galleys thumbtacked all around the artist’s desk (not to mention on the desk itself), but there are numerous small strips of type, headlines and titles of stories, saved in case he ever needs the word “Mars” or “Editor’s Corner” or “Alien” or “Corbomite” for a future issue.

  • One drawer on the drawing board desk is permanently open, full of tools, pencils, pens, ink bottles, brushes, rulers, knives, an ancient, foul-smelling bottle of rubber cement.

  • To the left of the secretary’s desk are a lot of files.  There are lots of loose papers stacked on top of the file cabinets, along with a pile of copies of the current issue of Incredible Tales.  For some reason, there is a small flying saucer toy on top of one of the piles of paper.

  • To the left of the files is the water cooler.  Near the water cooler is a crudely lettered cartoon of an alien dinosaur saying “Write or die!”  Little stick figures (presumably of hapless writers) are being crushed beneath the dinosaur’s terrible feet.  (The dinosaur drawing itself was cut out from the cover of a back issue of Incredible Tales) ..  The stale doughnuts are stored next to the water cooler.

  • Another item on the wall near the water cooler is a crudely hand-made paper gauge with a moveable arrow spinner (apparently made by Herb Rossoff), labeled the “Official Pabst Mood-O-Meter.”  It has three readings, designed to warn the office staff of Pabst’s moods:  Bad, medium, and good.  Next to the label for “good” is additional handwriting indicating that “this never happens.”  According to Avery, everyone passing by the watercooler habitually glances at the meter to get a current reading of the boss.

  • Mr. Pabst’s office is dignified and business-like in comparison to the bullpen.  There is a large, relatively neat desk.  On the desk is a box of cigars.  He has no typewriter.  There is a neat pile of recent back issues of Incredible Tales.  There is also a pile of layout boards, being reviewed by Pabst for the next issue.

assignments and of things planned for future issues.  There are memos and other papers pinned up.  For some reason, there is a diagram of a moon rocket pinned up.  By comparison to the bullpen, this is very neat and well-organized.

  • The wall directly behind Pabst’s desk has a shelf with a few knickknacks, including a couple of science fiction toys and a few awards.  Most significantly, there is a rocketship-shaped trophy.  This is an actual Hugo Award, loaned to us by Rick Sternbach.  (The episode is set in 1953, deliberately chosen as the first year in which the Hugos were awarded.  We are assuming that the episode is set in late August through September and maybe the early part of October.)  Above the shelf are a few nondescript awards, certificates, and diplomas.

The Enterprise C

Ever since we laid eyes on this doomed Ambassador class vessel, we have waged  unconditional love for it. Like Marilyn, cut down in her prime, the legend has grown to larger than life status. Certainly when we watched Yesterday’s Enterprise, it became clear that this version of Star Trek had found it’s legs. The complex relationships in it, including a tragic love story, and the sense that Trek had grown into an interwoven tapestry full of promise.

Rick Sternbach, and curmudgeon\Enterprise expert Gary Kerr, have graciously taken the time to put it all together for us.

Rick Sternbach – The deadline for sketching and blueprinting the Ent-C was pretty normal in that I had a few days preproduction to sketch up the ship as first suggested in Andy Probert’s color painting, get it approved as an intermediate shape between the Excelsior and the Galaxy classes, and then work up the blueprints. Greg Jein was given the miniature job, as we know. I suppose it took about three or four days to draft up the hull shape.

 The port elevation sketch was the first and, ultimately, the only sketch view of the Ambassador class Enterprise-C done for the TNG episode “Yesterday’s Enterprise.” Time constraints dictated that the blueprints and filming miniature be started as soon as possible, and the general look of the ship was quickly approved. The genesis of the design came from a small color painting done by Andy Probert back in the early preproduction for Season 1, plus a mental blending of the Excelsior/Enterprise-B and Galaxy class Enterprise-D. While Andy’s color sketch showed an elliptical cross section for the engineering hull and an intended elliptical saucer (not clearly visible but confirmed by Andy), the Enterprise-C would require some simplifications if it were to be constructed in time for filming.

I began drawing up the blueprints with a circular saucer and a circular cross section for the engineering hull, knowing that they would make model maker Greg Jein’s job markedly easier. Swinging compass arcs for the major saucer thickness changes and secondary hull bulkheads took much less time in the drafting stage than calculating ellipses, which is not impossible with pencil and tracing vellum (using something called the trammel method), just tedious.With the basic line work completed for a combined top/bottom view and a fore/aft view, all of the expected details on a Starfleet ship were added. Shield grid lines, phaser strips, lifeboat hatches, reaction control thrusters, running lights, engineering access hatches, and windows populated the surface. Understanding Greg Jein’s knowledge of starship modeling, I felt comfortable penciling in a single “wedge” of saucer details and then instructing him to repeat the wedge around as necessary, rather than draw every single component. Did anything get left off the blueprints? Torpedo launchers, I think, and maybe a tractor beam emitter or two. Why Greg didn’t catch that, I’ll never know. 🙂 Once in his hands, Greg added a lot more surface texture in the form of more shield grid lines, as well as a unique paint scheme.

The front view was inked (inked?!) to become part of the bridge displays on the Enterprise-C. If you didn’t know before, black line art was typically shot on high-contrast negative film and then colored from behind with gels, mounted to light gray smoked plexiglas, and backlit. Okay, you knew that. Today, of course, it’s all Adobe Illustrator and Corel Draw and a bunch of other image apps printed out to backlit inkjet film. Anyhow, most of the status displays and engineering cross section diagrams were originally done with black technical pen and xerox pasteup and thin black crepe tape. Half of a top view could be flopped and copied and pasted together to make a full top view, and incorporated into a control panel.

One thing you’ll notice from the front view is that the nacelles don’t peek over the top of the saucer, but rather “look under” the saucer to allow the Bussard collectors to work. Same goes for Voyager and the Enterprise-D. I may have doodled the Ambassador class pylons reaching way up over the saucer but discarded the idea; some shapes just don’t feel right, so they get reworked. The nacelles themselves are deliberately a bit oversized, as if Starfleet was experimenting with a new warp coil that was perfected later in the Galaxy class. The Enterprise-C was certainly a fun ship to work on despite the short time frame, and to see it come out as a couple of different model kits was an added bonus.

– Rick Sternbach

Now let’s join Gary Kerr reporting on the construction of the 1701-C miniature, by legendary Hollywood model maker, Greg Jein –

Next it was up to Greg Jein to translate Rick’s rough plans into a 3-dimensional, neon-lighted model.  Greg had neither the time nor the budget to build a museum-quality miniature, but this was not necessary since the battle-damaged model was intended to appear only in wide shots on relatively low-resolution TV screens.

Nevertheless, it still takes a fair amount of time to build a filming miniature.  Since time was short, Greg farmed out the fabrication of the warp nacelle master to David Merriman, and the secondary hull master to Ed Miarecki.  Assembly of the metal armature, neon lighting, and outer hull (made primarily from 0.060″ thick plastic sheet) was done at Greg’s shop in Marina del Rey. Not all of Greg’s techniques were high-tech; for example, the lifeboat hatches were made from adhesive labels.  Certain practical considerations and Greg’s own creative license created several differences between Rick Sternbach’s initial design and the finished model.

As the last step in the construction process, Greg meticulously applied the model’s paint scheme and decals, then proceeded to obliterate much of it with “battle damage.”  Greg’s techniques for applying battle damage were simple, but effective: he masked portions of the hull with brass screen, then sprayed black paint over it, creating the illusion of holes in the hull, with structural framing showing through.  Smudges and blast marks came courtesy of fireworks sparklers.

Following its appearance in “Yesterday’s Enterprise,” Greg performed a substantial rebuild of the C into an updated Ambassador-class ship, which appeared in later Trek episodes as the Yamaguchi, Excalibur, Zhukov, etc.  The nacelles and saucer of the updated model were attached to the armature at a point further aft than on the C, resulting in a slightly different overall length from the C.

So what is the theoretical length of the Enterprise-C and the actual size of the model?  Rick Sternbach designed the Ent-C to be about 3/4 the length of the Ent-D, per Rick Berman’s rule that other ships should generally be no larger than 3/4 the length of the Ent-D (with a few notable exceptions, such as the Romulan Warbird and Borg Cube)

The original plan was to build the Ent-C model in scale with the 4 foot long Ent-D miniature, which meant the Ent-C model would have been about three feet in length.  A 3 ft model was a bit too small to serve as a filming miniature of a large starship, so Greg Jein enlarged Rick’s bluelines by 115% to build his model.

 Here are some dimensions of the original Ent-C model:

Saucer section – 26.28″ diameter

Nacelles – 15.4375″ LOA, not including front dome; 17.20″ LOA, including the dome

Max. width 2.88″

Overall length of model – 41.19″

I’ve recently emailed both Mike Okuda & Rick Sternbach regarding the theoretical length of the Ent-C.  I’ve got the plans that Greg Jein used to build his model of the C, and the set includes both Rick’s original blueline plans and Greg’s enlarged xeroxes.  I measured the side profile of the C in the blueline, which is in scale with the 4 ft Ent-D, and got an overall length of one gnat less than 35.75″.  If you take a 48″ Ent-D model & 2108′ theoretical Ent-D, then use proportions on a 35.75″ Ent-C plan, you get a length of 1570.02 feet/478.55 meters for the theoretical Ent-C.

After checking with Mike & Rick, we’ve agreed that the “retro-canon” length of the Ent-C is 1570 feet/478.5 meters.  The length given in the ST Encyclopedia is simply a mistake.  Thus canon is given; thus canon is taketh away.

And that’s all I’ve got!


Hanging In The Hangar Bay

Undoubtedly one of the coolest sets ever built for TV Star Trek, The NX-01 Hangar bay. With it’s split levels, suspended walkways, articulated ladders, observation booth, and two complete shuttle pods, it’s a fully immersive experience, as in you are there.

One day early on in the production, I walked over to the darkened stage to check out the inspection pod. As I pass by the hangar set, I can hear someone moving around in the darkness Then a camera flash… and again! Who the heck is in here taking pictures in the dark? I peeked inside, and there was this good looking gal I’d never seen before, happily snapping away! I’m sure you know that we’ve had numerous people sneak onto the lot to get an advanced look. In fact we’ve had numerous items stolen right off the set. I’d be polite… “Hi, I’m Doug Drexler from the art department… and you are?” “Oh hi!” she replied, “I’m Roxann Dawson! I’m directing the next episode!” I start laughing, and we shake hands vigorously. “Jeez! You’ll have to excuse me! I’ve been seeing you everyday for the last six years, but never out of Klingon makeup. I did not  recognize you!” “That’s the beauty of it!” She replied. We both laughed, chatted for a minute. I headed back to the art department shaking my head, feeling a little silly.

Who was the best PA I ever saw?

Well I’ll tell ya’… Rod Roddenberry.

No, I’m not kidding. Rod Roddenberry was the art department PA for a year. We thought they were kidding when they told us, but Rod wanted to be here with the crazy folk! Who could blame ’em? He knew us, and we knew him… in fact we all felt like he was our responsibility, you know what I mean? We were his extended family, uncle’s and aunt’s all. Little did we know or expect that Rod would pamper us and look after us too! Eugene took the job very seriously. He was always concerned that we had what we needed to get our assignments done. But not only that, we had pizza day, spaghetti day, and three different roasts of coffee freshly ground every morning! Good natured, funny, and smart. I testify that Gene and Majel did something right when they raised this kid!

I also had this very Twilight Zone situation where I worked on Star Trek, and could yell: RODDENBERRY! GET IN HERE!

First Flight

“First Flight” was a big episode for the graphics department. We did the control panels in the NX cockpit, as well as most of the panels in the mission control set. There was some panel work and a bunch of signage in the hangar set. Also, there was a big “building directory” sign in the corridor set. If you looked closely at the sign, all of the Starfleet officials listed were people on the Star Trek Enterprise production and support crews.

We did quite a few NASA-style mission patches for this episode. You featured my favorites in your CG hangar deck rendering. Others were mounted on the walls of the NX Mission Control set, just like the real NASA Mission Control rooms. Still others were actually embroidered, framed on the wall of the 602 club set. One of those patches was for an unnamed “First To Saturn” mission, whose crew was Christopher, O’Herlihy, and Fontana. You may recall that the original series episode “Tomorrow is Yesterday” established that Shawn Geoffrey Christopher will command the first mission to Saturn. That episode was written by D.C. Fontana and directed by Michael O’Herlihy. After the episode was finished, I sent one of those patches to Dorothy Fontana. Alan Kobayashi designed some background patch designs, and I think that Geoff Mandel may have contributed there, too. (Geoff did a whole bunch of fun patches during his tenure on “Space Above and Beyond.) The 602 club also had a bunch of real NASA emblems on the wall that I loaned to the production from my personal collection. Oh, and I also got to do identification badges that were worn on lanyards. During one day of filming on the mission control set, Star Trek hosted sailors from the real US Navy ship Enterprise. They were the Sailors of the Year from our favorite aircraft carrier, and they even got to appear in a scene as background Starfleet officials. – Mike Okuda

Paneling Dancing With The Stars

“Doug!” snapped Mike, “Please join me on the bridge!”

I always got a thrill out of hearing that, and Mike knew it. “Which one?” I grinned. On stage 18 there was the bridge of the Defiant, on stage 8 we had the D bridge, and further down the lane on  stage 14, the bridge of the Enterprise B.  Was there ever a better time to be on Star Trek? Mike smiled.

Alan Ruck (Captain Harriman), and Jacqueline Kim (Demora Sulu) were waiting on the bridge for us. Both of them had asked for someone to explain how the ship functions, it’s method of power… the basic theory of starflight, and the proper way to put real intent into using a starship’s command interface. It was just one of the fun things we got to do, break actors in on using the futuristic consoles.

Making it even better, Alan and Jacqueline were in uniform. Mike gave them the basic run down on warp technolgy, and how the ship’s systems worked. What was most surprising was that they were really interested. Not all actors cared … usually they were the same thespian’s who use the business end of a weapon to point out a fellow crewman.

“Ok,” said Jacqueline who really seemed to grok.”There’s a right way and a wrong way to interact with the controls…” Wow… I was really impressed. Mike smiled. “Doug, why don’t you show Ms. Sulu the basics of operating the instruments.” “With pleasure, captain!” I smoothly slid into the helm position as Mike continued, “Hands are expressive. Often hands are more expressive than a person’s face. Temper your tempo with the drama of the situation. You can go a long way in selling that things are even keeled or dangerous just by the way you operate the console. You have to sell it to the balcony.”

“The man speaks truth,” I agreed. “Check out some of the cast on TNG. No one played a console like Brent Spiner. Spiner was poetry in motion. He made a ballet out of it.” I began to mime.”Notice something over here… respond to it with a cascade of finger work… stop and wait for the ship to respond, check the MVS… make an adjustment on your console, check the board for feedback, finish with a flourish.

I rose from the station and offered it to Jacqueline. She took her position and fell in beautifully.

“Every move doesn’t have to be a button push. You can rock the button, or even dial,” explained Mike. “Don’t be afraid to make a sweeping or sliding motion across a swathe of interface.” I added. Later, I would see her do that in the picture and smile to myself. Before we left the stage, she and Alan were panel dancing like starfleet veterans. Mike and I stepped off the bridge, smiled at one another, shook hands, and headed back to our stations over the Marathon Mill.